Jinn is a new movie directed by Nijla Mu’min. It is about a 17 year-old black girl who faces an identity crisis when her mom abruptly converts to Islam. The film debuted at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award.
This movie just did not land like it should have. Coming-of-age stories are typically very compelling, It is certainly well-meaning and forward-thinking, but the film almost gets too caught up in this to be effective.
The protagonist wasn’t particularly compelling. Her situation makes her sympathetic to a certain extent, but her personality does not lend itself to a compelling character. She is annoying and rather typical. Many of the things she does in the movie that should make the character more likable have the inverse effect.
One plot point that jumps out as particularly problematic is the protagonist’s edgy social media profile. This action soon becomes the focus of the film, but the impacts it has on the story are minimal and unsatisfying. The movie ends before this storyline can be fully resolved, which is disappointing.
The film’s pacing is also quite weak. The character doesn’t have a typical coming-of-age arc, and as such, the movie does not have the quick pacing of a coming-of-age film. Instead, it has a meandering pace closer to a slice-of-life film. This is unlikely to keep the attention of most audience members, as the characters are not compelling enough for it to be effective at this style.
Additionally, the supporting characters in the movie aren’t particularly well-developed. There are hints of potential in the mother’s storyline, as he newfound religion causes conflict with her very visible work life, but these are never fully explored. A potentially interesting side plot in the story of the protagonist’s father is also introduced, but not expanded. As a whole, it seemed like the script needed a bit more work in the development stage.
The execution of the film certainly isn’t bad, but it isn’t particularly impressive, either. The actors do their best with what they are given, but since that which they are given is underwhelming, they aren’t given much room to shine. The cinematography is very straightforward. Perhaps the movie would have caught more attention if it had been more visually stylized. It is also a shame that music didn’t play a larger role in the movie, as the protagonist is a dedicated dancer.
Overall, Jinn was a rather disappointing film. It may land better with some audiences, but it will bore most with its wasted potential.
Jinn opens in theaters November 15 and is available on VOD November 16.